REVIEW: The Hallmark Sequel "Haul Out the Holly: Lit Up" Is as Silly as the First One

Emily and Jared are looking forward to celebrating the holidays together as a couple, and they prepare to work with their neighbors on Evergreen Lane to make this year's Christmas celebrations the best yet.  When a house on the block goes up for sale, the soon-to-be-neighbors are holiday royalty, but they are so competitive that they nearly ruin Christmas for everyone. Starring:   Lacey Chabert, Wes Brown, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ellen Travolta, Melissa Peterman, Seth Morris, and Jennifer Aspen Image:  Hallmark Media Haul Out the Holly:  Lit Up Has a Moral When the residents of Evergreen Lane learn that their new neighbors are the Jolly Johnsons--famous holiday reality stars--they are thrilled to welcome them to the block.  Everyone assumes the Johnsons will fit right in since they share their same affinity for elf culture. Emily, Jared, and the rest of the holiday crew quickly realize that the Johnsons aren't interested in joining in on the fun--they plan to take over. Image:  Tw

Review: Hallmark's "Take Me Back for Christmas" Is One of Their BEST New Movies!

A Christmas wish gives Renée the successful life she'd always dreamed of.  This new reality is perfect, except for one thing...she is no longer married to her husband, Aaron.  Now, Renée must race against the clock to win him back.

Starring:  Vanessa Lengies and Corey Sevier

Take Me Back for Christmas Hallmark movie
Image:  Hallmark Media

Take Me Back for Christmas Has Depth

In many of their newer movies, Hallmark exchanges emotional depth for shallow, light-hearted romance.  While this formula produces movies that are entertaining, they lack substance.

A truly great original story should inspire the viewer and move them emotionally.  Take Me Back for Christmas does both and should qualify as a Hallmark Hall of Fame production.

Renée (Lengies) has always dreamed of running her own business, and her husband, Aaron (Sevier), reluctantly sells insurance despite longing to be a chef.  The couple initially move to New York to follow their vision but return to the suburbs after only three months to care for Renée's mother, who ultimately passes away and wills her house to them.  Ten years later, both are stuck in dead-end jobs they don't enjoy, they are struggling to pay their bills, and their happy marriage is feeling the strain.

Renée encounters an elf at the gift shop where she works who is assisting Santa at an in-store event.  The elf encourages Renée to make a wish on a silver bell.  Although Renée initially declines, a series of discouraging events changes her mind.  She wishes she had a different life and wakes up in a New York office where she is the CEO of a successful meal kit delivery company, and she lives in a luxurious Manhatten apartment.  The best part...her mom is still alive.

Take Me Back for Christmas
That face you make when you discover you're a rich CEO who lives in luxury.  Image:  Hallmark Media

The only thing missing from this perfect life is Aaron.  She learns the two had broken up five years previously due to the toll establishing her own business had taken on their relationship.

When Renée discovers that Aaron is a successful chef, she convinces him to work with her to develop a Christmas meal kit that will benefit local food banks while increasing her company's subscriptions.  Her plan to win Aaron back seems to be working, but then complications arise that threaten to destroy it all.

Renée learns that the key to moving forward with her life and love is to return to her old life and make changes, but it also requires saying goodbye to her mom.

Take Me Back for Christmas Boasts a Stellar Cast

Vanessa Lengies has been in two other Hallmark movies:  Heart of the Holidays and Christmas in Toyland.  

Lengies proves her versatility as an actress in Take Me Back for Christmas.  She is literally in every scene of the movie, and she is physically comedic one moment and deeply emotional the next.  She takes the viewer along for the wild ride of learning to navigate the new reality her wish creates.  You might even find yourself experiencing second-hand embarrassment in a few scenes.

Corey Sevier not only acts in the movie--he directs it.  Sevier's wife wrote the script, though both of them collaborated on the concept.  

Sevier has starred in several Hallmark films including Northern Lights of Christmas, Road Trip Romance, Pumpkin Everything, Noel Next Door, and The Dog Lovers Guide to Dating.

Love and Lattes Podcast interviewed both actors about the movie, which you can watch here:

In the interview, Lengies and Sevier share that the entire movie was shot in only 13 days!  Plus, you hear what challenged them the most about filming and even learn some fun facts, like their favorite Christmas meals and ice cream flavors.

Both actors point out the dedication of the entire crew.  Viewers can feel the heart and soul invested into bringing this wonderful story to life. 

In the scene where Sevier's character is preparing the meal to be included in Renée's kit, both actors share that the meal is fresh and delicious, not something laying around hours ahead of filming.  Sevier, a very slow eater, even took his leftovers home!

The acting, directing, and crew's meticulous attention to detail results in a touching movie. Even after it's over, your heart doesn't let it go!

Take Me Back for Christmas Reminds Us What Is Important

Take Me Back for Christmas is so relatable.

We often let circumstances hold us back, but the clock keeps ticking.  Life is short, and there's no time to waste.  Sometimes, we just have to take a leap of faith.

We take our families for granted.  The movie reminds us that marriages need tended and that our parents won't be with us forever.  It's important to make the most of the time we have and never let a day go by that we don't remind our families how much we love them.

Take Me Back for Christmas
Image:  Hallmark Media

The grass is never greener on the other side.  Life is filled with challenges for everyone.

We can't wish our lives away.  If we want to change our trajectory, we need to make wise choices that will help us get to where we want to go.

Share Your Thoughts!

The horrible, long-haired wig Lengies wears aside, Take Me Back for Christmas is perfection from start to finish.  Keep the tissues handy!  Not only do we need more poignant and stirring movies like this one, we need more Corey Sevier!


In the comment section, share your thoughts on Take Me Back for Christmas.  


  1. I knew for sure within the first 30 minutes that this will be one of my top Hallmark movies. I have watched it three times already and cry each time. The actress deserves much praise for literally pulling you into her life and feeling every emotion possible.

    1. I feel exactly the same way. My mom passed 12 years ago and It feels like yesterday. I sobbed last night after watching for the 3rd time. Renee is so REAL and so is Aaron. This is my new fave…i think it even surpassed Christmas Under the Stars, which was my all time fave until now!!

  2. Fabulous movie. Vanessa did a stunning acting job and she has matured so much as an actress. The scenes with her mother were absolute gold. I will watch everything that Vanessa and Corey are featured in going forward. This is one of the best Hallmark movies I've ever seen! I think I cried throughout the end of the movie--it was so heartfelt and lovely.

  3. I absolutely love Vanessa.she is a wonderful actress.i love this movie

  4. I have seen this movie three times and love it....the acting is wonderful....Vanessa steals the show....all the actors are believable....and the script is top notch....this reminds me of the classic old time Hallmark specials on network tv.....luv luv luv the movie and the message


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